The Regional Arts Australia Conference started fourteen years ago in Mount Gambier. A biennial conference, it has travelled to each state and is now back in South Australia, now at Goolwa, under the duel names of Kumuwuki / Big Wave.
Goolwa is the traditional home of the people of the Ngarrindjeri nation, extending along the lower Murray River, the western Fleurieu Peninsula, and the Coorong. It was settled by white Australians as a river port collecting goods from upstream of the Murray. Originally, it was connected to the seaside Port Elliot for boat trade, but the area was prone to shipwrecks, and the primary port moved down the coast to Victor Harbor.
Goolwa is now home to 6000 people, and, along with the coastal towns Port Elliot, Victor Harbor, and Middleton, it is a popular summer holiday destination.
Country Arts SA is currently in its third year of running the Regional Centre for Culture. Each year since 2010, a different regional town has been dubbed the Centre for Culture, and has seen an investment in upgrading infrastructure, increased touring, and support for work with and by local artists and communities. The Regional Arts Conference is being presented as a part of Goolwa’s Just Add Water, and sits as just a weekend in the yearlong program.
The conference opening plenary brought together the several hundred delegates, welcomed with a Welcome To Country and a Smoking Ceremony, asking the ancestors of everyone in this space to come and sit with us.